Ask Amy

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: I was extremely fortunate to have had a baby boy with my second wife while in my late 50s.

Never have I been so happy — with my beautiful 14-month-old boy — and I consider myself very fortunate indeed.

I'm the stay-at-home professional artist dad, while my wife has the traditional "husband" role.

When I'm at the supermarket, the library or the playground, everyone assumes that my son is my grandchild, and tells me so.

I'm very offended by that quick pronouncement of my status.

I certainly do not look like a 58-year-old, but I don't look in my early 30s either.

We live in a sexist and ageist culture, where if an older man is with a boy, the assumption is that he is retired and a grandfather.

I don't ever assume that a larger woman is pregnant, but I have assumed that an older woman is a grandmother, although I keep those assumptions to myself.

I would like your take on possible responses without sounding irritated.

Or am I just a little too sensitive?

— Frustrated Father

DEAR FRUSTRATED: According to you, we live in a "sexist and ageist" culture, and yet you have a wife who is also a "husband" and are the lucky dad to a baby while in your late 50s.

I don't quite understand your pain because — at least the way you present it — you hit the jackpot, my friend.

I don't know many women in their late 50s, for instance, who are lucky enough to give birth to babies with their (presumably much younger) spouses.

I also don't quite know what a 58-year-old is supposed to look like. I've looked 58 since I was in my 30s, but evidently looking your age is also something you don't feel comfortable about.

You need to get a sense of humor about this because it is a fact of your life, and you (and especially your son) will be dealing with this forever.

You can say, "Oh — I'm not his grandpa, I'm his dad! At this rate, I won't become a grandfather until I'm 105!"


DEAR AMY: "Uneasy" wrote that her boyfriend of two months recently logged back in to the online dating site where they first met.

Your advice was that if they choose to become sexually involved, then they should talk about this situation — the implication being that they aren't having sex.

Maybe I'm out of touch, given that I've been married for more than 30 years, but even back when I was dating, going with someone for two months and not yet having sex would've been unusual.

I would think that nowadays the moral constraints against premarital sex are even looser.

— Curious

DEAR CURIOUS: The numbers are in, and (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) the number of teens (for instance) having sex is actually decreasing.

Sexual behavior (and the definition of what constitutes "having sex") may have changed, but in a dating relationship, I would argue that people are in some ways more sexually cautious than they were in your youth. The prevalence of AIDS and other STDs (not huge public health issues 30 years ago) are reason enough to be careful.

"Unsure" didn't say whether she and the guy she was seeing were sexually intimate, but if they were, they should be brave enough to talk about things.


DEAR AMY: Last Christmas I sent my father-in-law, a man who has everything, something special.

At least I thought it was.

Both my mother-in-law and father-in-law did not appreciate it, basically told me that and hurt my feelings.

What do I do this year?

I know I'm not buying them anything, but do I have to visit them on Christmas?

I'm still hurt from their actions.

How do other couples deal with rude in-laws on what should be a joyous day?

— Out-law

DEAR OUT-LAW: I'd advise that you shouldn't give ungrateful people the power to suck the joy out of your holiday. I'll joyfully run suggestions from readers.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com

Filed under: Lifestyles

1 Comment on this post:

By: NewYorker1 on 11/12/09 at 7:54

DEAR OUT-LAW: I had a similar situation happen to me with a very close family member a few years ago. I purchased her a very nice gift and took her to a very expensive restaurant for her birthday. Well, a few days later another family member informed me that my gestures should have been MORE because of my income level according to the relative that I did those things for. That was a few years ago and to this day, I have not spent one penny on this person. We still talk regularly like we have always done, but I wouldn't buy her a glass of water if she needed it.

Sometimes you need to put your foot down and decide when you will no long be disrespected.